Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility

Human Resources


IDEA Policy

The City of Kentwood is deeply committed to cultivating and sustaining a culture centered on the values of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. Collectively, we refer to these values as IDEA, and define them as follows:

  • Inclusion: The ongoing behaviors and actions that 1) make people feel they are being heard, are respected, and are valued for their perspectives and experiences, and 2) provide ample opportunities to inform the decisions that impact them.
  • Diversity: The varying and unique characteristics or traits that tie individuals to a particular group or group(s).
  • Equity: The process to make policies, procedures and resources available to all, especially those that are underrepresented or marginalized, and the outcomes that result in fairness across all situations.
  • Accessibility: The structures and systems that enable and empower any individual to use resources, spaces, processes, etc. with a similar amount of effort or time regardless of their ability status or identity.

By committing to these values, the City of Kentwood affirms that our employees are the most important resource in ensuring that Kentwood residents are effectively served by its municipal government. The richness of perspectives, backgrounds, and identities that are collectively represented by our employees enhances the City’s capacity to meet our strategic goals and continue the inclusive and rapid growth of the Kentwood community.

We fully acknowledge and celebrate the differences and similarities of our employees across different dimensions of diversity: age, ability status, education, ethnicity, family or marital status, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, political affiliation, race, religious or spiritual practice, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, veteran status, and the multitude of other characteristics that contribute to the diversity of our staff.

It is our intent to embed these values across the City. To achieve this, the City of Kentwood will integrate IDEA as a lens through which we develop and implement our practices and policies related (but not limited to): recruitment, hiring and contracting; compensation and benefits; promotions and career advancement; professional development, training and education; disciplinary actions and terminations; and other structures that support an inclusive, equitable, and accessible work environment for a diverse workforce. It is the City’s intent to ensure that our practices and policies are adequate, effective, and culturally adaptive to an increasingly diverse workforce.

We are also committed to ensuring that the organizational culture of the City of Kentwood reinforces a work environment in which employees feel a sense of belonging, psychological safety, and spirit of collaboration and servant leadership. Doing so maintains productive cooperation, communication, innovation, and trust among all employees and the residents, board and committee members, and other community stakeholders with whom they engage.

To achieve our vision for IDEA, all City employees have the responsibility to invest in this commitment. As such, all employees are expected to demonstrate behaviors and actions that align with our defined IDEA values as part of their responsibilities as a City of Kentwood employee. They should also participate in ongoing training and other activities that support the competencies and skills to fulfill their IDEA responsibilities. Employees should act in accordance with established policies that reflect or reinforce IDEA at the City.

When employees believe they have been subjected to or have observed behaviors or actions that conflict with the City’s IDEA policy and/or other related policies, they should seek out a supervisor or Human Resources Department team member for support or assistance.


In May 2017, the City established an Employment & Volunteer Opportunity Committee, or EVOC, including the Mayor, two City Commissioners and staff appointed by the Mayor. This action was taken to holistically review the City’s employment system to ensure its policies and practices align with the City’s desire to be an equal opportunity public employer of choice.  The overarching question was: How do we create an employment continuum that successfully provides awareness, access and recruitment, opportunity, advancement and retention for all people?

The EVOC met to build consensus and affirm staff direction to create a framework for growth. These efforts led to a variety of policy, program and operational changes that furthered inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility efforts. 

In January 2021, the City sought additional review of its hiring policies and procedures, work environment and volunteer opportunities through a diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion lens. Through a competitive bid process, Inclusive Performance Strategies was engaged to provide this review. 

A project overview was presented to the City Commission on March 22, 2021, and the project findings were presented on May 9, 2022.


The findings and recommendations made throughout the overall IDEA report outline numerous opportunities for the City to leverage current strengths and continuously improve upon its commitment to IDEA.

IPS identified a need for capacity building in order to put the City in a position to be successful in implementing IDEA strategies moving forward. The following global recommendations were provided as initial priorities:

  1. Develop an IDEA strategic framework that clearly outlines specific goals and objectives that are embedded within the City’s current strategic plans.
  2. Establish an internal cross-departmental IDEA committee to support framework development, including prioritization of IDEA goals and objectives, collaborate with IPS in identifying key performance indicators and serve as an additional conduit to keep all employees informed.
  3. Increase human resource staffing to support the implementation of IDEA strategies, including any key recommendations that fall within current HR responsibilities, such as performance reviews, professional development and any recommendations that involve conducting audits of departmental practices for continuous improvement.


Key findings and recommendations in the overall IDEA report have been organized into five areas of focus for the City to consider moving forward. The following provides a high-level summary of the focus areas:

  1. Internal Communication: Internal practices that influence transparency, maintain employee engagement and awareness and help to promote healthy workplace relationships across various spheres of influences (i.e., team, department, organization).
  2. Equitable Employment Experience: The City’s capacity to provide consistent resources and opportunities to all employees in an accessible and equitable manner.
  3. Equipping Staff: How the City sets employees up for success to fulfill job responsibilities and to cultivate the knowledge, skills and attitudes to support an IDEA-centered workplace.
  4. Pre-employment Practices: Key interactions between the City and prospective employees to build a diverse and talented City workforce.
  5. Organizational Values & Leadership: How formal and informal leaders support a strong leadership culture centered on IDEA.

All of the recommendations within the report can provide vital improvements and meaningful action toward the City’s IDEA vision and goals. The report also represents a considerable amount of time, effort and resources to support sustainable progress and accountability.

With direction from the City Commission, Kentwood leadership will determine initial action steps to lay the groundwork for continued success. The following chart lists recommendations IPS has said the City should begin to implement with an IDEA strategic action plan.



 Internal Communication

  • Establish shared standards/guidelines that inform how all department heads share information to support consistent communication across departments.
  • Encourage employees to attend Committee of the Whole and City Commission meetings and other opportunities, such as employee recognition events, to interact with elected leadership (and ensure such engagements do not interfere with the established roles of elected officials and administrative functions).

 Equipping Staff

  • Establish IDEA-related knowledge and skills that can be incorporated into job descriptions or other guiding documentation.
  • For all Citywide personnel policies, clarify the parameters to which policies are executed “at the discretion of the department head or supervisor.”
  • Utilize the six-month timeline for the new City employee orientation period as a standard parameter for all onboarding activities to occur and a milestone to collect employee feedback on the overall onboarding process.

 Equitable Employment Practices

  • Develop an IDEA core competency model to inform and guide employee professional development.
  • Given evolving trends in the necessary resources to attract and retain a diverse and talented workforce, consider expanding parental leave policies to include at least 12 weeks of paid leave (see additional recommendations related to parental leave policy and practices).
  • Continue auditing annual reviews of all employees and include the frequency to which employees have interim reviews and/or check-ins with their supervisors.
  • Ensure department leaders, in conjunction with HR staff, review language within performance review documentation and revise to help mitigate any managerial subjectivity while conducting performance reviews and help reduce the impact of any managers’ cultural preferences regarding behaviors, work styles, etc.
  • Continue to regularly conduct compensation and pay equity reviews to monitor progress and inform future budgeting efforts.
  • Review and revise exit interview questions to primarily focus on gathering employee perspectives on IDEA and workplace culture at the City.

 Pre-employment Practices

  • Ensure resources are allocated at an administrative level to support department-specific and more tactical recruitment practices.
  • Conduct an audit of each department’s own pipeline cultivation practices to understand current level of activity, engagement with community stakeholders, participation in professional networks, job boards and job fairs and the extent to which department employees engage in recruitment or pipeline activities.
  • Continue involving relevant department staff throughout the selection and decision-making process for all open positions.
  • Update interview protocols to require candidates to participate in a “meet and greet” with the department (or full team within the department, depending on staff size) once the candidate has completed a specific number of interviews.

 Organizational Values & Leadership


  • Clarify expectations with any participants regarding the intended use and impact of IDEA-educational opportunities and how it relates to their responsibilities, and ensure designated time for participants to periodically meet after training is completed to support practical application and accountability. It is recommended department leadership is the initial employee group to participate in the implementation of IDEA-related development opportunities.
  • Formalize language that clearly states how the City of Kentwood defines inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility. Establish a “roll out” plan to introduce this  language across departments, encourage department or team-level discussions and include opportunities for employees to provide feedback on the language.
  • At the department level, create standards of behavior connected to IDEA values as defined at the City level.
  • Incorporate any IDEA statements and language (current and future) within all educational or developmental processes, including onboarding, employee handbooks, relevant training protocols and “reboarding” opportunities.
  • Require department heads to participate in regular IDEA training and education that is targeted toward municipal leaders and is clearly connected to the responsibilities, knowledge and skills as outlined in position descriptions.



IDEA Project Overview
Overview of IDEA Project Findings
Full IDEA Assessment Report
Full IDEA Board & Committee Report


Heather Visco, Human Resources Director

Shay Gallagher, Deputy City Administrator

This webpage will be updated as additional documents and information become available.